Jesus Journey: 40 Days in the Footsteps of Christ

Day 22

First Miracle

Read John 2:1–11

Our bus rumbles into Kafr Kanna, the small town that’s long been associated with Jesus’ first miracle.

It’s uncertain if this village was the precise location of first-century Cana, though there’s been a church here dedicated to the “wedding miracle” since the fourth century. As I watch it slide past the window, my mind drifts to the scene described in the Bible.

Maybe it’s because I’m thirsty.

You have to admit, it’s a funny story. Jesus, his mother, and his disciples are at a wedding celebration in the Galilean village of Cana. The wine runs out. Maybe all they have left are crackers (and perhaps hummus). Major party stopper.

After his mom asks him to do something about it, Jesus tells the servants to set six “very large stone water-jars” on the floor, each holding twenty gallons, and fill them “to the brim” with water.


Stop for a second. There was only one reason to have stone water-jars in a house in the first century.

Jars carved out of stone, instead of made from clay, were used only for religious ritual purposes. Pottery could be ceremonially unclean. It was porous and soaked up whatever was placed inside and so it was hard to wash thoroughly. But water in stone vessels was seen as pure.

These stone jars were presumably used to hold “holy water” used for ceremonial washing — a symbolic act of cleansing from sin, not for cleaning off the dust of the road or other dirt.

So Jesus doesn’t just fill some wine glasses. He takes the large jars used for religious ritual and instead makes them useful for a party — specifically, a wedding party. Does anyone else see the poetry here?

Jesus then says, take some to the MC. They do, he tastes it, and it’s all good. The man says to the groom, “Everybody I know puts his good wine out first and then when the guests have had plenty to drink, he brings out the swill. But you have kept back your good wine till now!” (see John 2:10)

The writer of John’s telling us, it wasn’t just wine. It was great wine.

120 gallons of great wine.

Of all the things Jesus could have done as his first miracle, he helps a party go on a little longer.

What does this mean? Why did he do this? And why did he do it this way?

What if he had turned the water into mediocre wine — you know, like 120 gallons of Two-Buck Chuck? Wouldn’t it still have been a miracle?

What if he had simply filled up their wineskins instead of using jars meant for religious purposes?

And why did he wait until they were out of wine — why didn’t he quietly refill each glass as it emptied?

What is he teaching here? And heis teaching something. John says that the disciples became more than just students on this day. He says they “put their faith in him” because of this miracle, which John calls a “sign.”


In fact, John calls all Christ’s miracles “signs.” I think it’s because, writing his gospel later, as an older man, John sees that Jesus was an artist with miracles the way a poet is an artist with words, or a painter is an artist with a brush.

This is true even when the miracle is done at the request of his mom — it appears that Jesus hadn’t set the stage. He hadn’t stretched the canvas. He was an artist scratching out a sketch on a cocktail napkin at a party after a loved one said, “Please?”

But you can always see the hand of a master. Even in a doodle.

And in the lines of this miracle you can see so much.

Jesus is here to welcome us to a wedding feast. A party.

Jesus is here to put a new wine on the beverage table. Something brand new — yet something that has all the flavor of something vintage, something that had fermented and aged for years until it was uncorked.

Jesus is here because God saved the best for last. When all our human efforts were insufficient, he came to the rescue.

And Jesus is here to change the people’s notion of their religion. They were only able to see it as a vessel for ritual. But Jesus turns it into a gourmet experience, something special, into a relationship that produces joy and fellowship.

And if you think this miracle was something, wait until you see the nature-bending miracles yet to come.


How has Jesus taken the stone jars and filled them with wine in your life?